Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Completely sustained

Lately it  has been quite amazing to me to see how God sustains us always.. especially in times of stress or uncertainty. I love the phrase "strength to strength" in this passage. It paints a picture of my mind of little stepping stones that are perfectly spaced apart leading to an abundantly beautiful garden. 
I am finding out first hand what it means to take one step at a time and how perfectly spaced apart these stepping stones of faith and provision are. 
Strength to strength.
And I am finding out that When I am completely surrendered, I am completely sustained.

Psalm 84

1How lovely is your dwelling place,

   O LORD of hosts!

2My soul longs, yes, faints

   for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and flesh sing for joy

   to the living God.

 3Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
    my King and my God.


4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

   ever singing your praise! 


 5Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion  
(signifying God's promised Land/ fulfillment of His Word).
6As they go through the Valley of Baca 
(which is the valley of weeping)
   they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.


7They go from strength to strength;

   each one appears before God in Zion. (His promise)

 8O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
   give ear, O God of Jacob! 

9 Behold our shield, O God;

   look on the face of your anointed!

 10For a day in your courts is better
   than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
   the LORD bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does he withhold
   from those who walk uprightly.

12O LORD of hosts,

    blessed is the one who trusts in you!
{ Completely Sustained}

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jesus and Sugar

I've been off of sugar for 3 weeks now.
This is now very easy. I am no longer craving cake on a nightly basis. But it wasn't at first..at all!
I suppose you could call it a sugar fast, even though I didn't start this because of a spiritual conviction. Shortly after starting the sugar freeness, I began to see some spiritual parallels. Thank you God for teaching me even though I am most times a poor student! De-cluttering my life, my diet, my habits of things that don't matter, definitely leaves me reflecting on the things that do matter and not brownies and cakes and pies....
So while being on a no sugar diet seems like a fad fast. It's really showing me what a mentally, emotionally and spirituality focused lifestyle is all about. And it's refreshing. Hard but refreshing.

So here are some random things that being sugar free has brought to my attention.

The more I get the more I crave.

Hello! It's addicting. I never ate like a whole cake a day or anything.
It was a piece of chocolate here, and a slice of bread there (who knew that EVERYTHING has sugar in it!?). But it was in most of the food I was consuming. So while I thought I was doing well by not having a sweet tooth, I was proved wrong when on the first few days of my "detox" I felt like I was coming off of crack (probably not similar but I am trying to make a point here)
Which do I crave more? Jesus or sugar?
Oh geeze. This one was like a light bulb going off above my head.
When I am without Jesus for a few days, what happens? Do I even notice?
And the answer is -YES. But do I crave him? I want to! 
The more I have of him, the more I crave. He's definitely better than a piece of double chocolate cake with fudgey icing.
The Psalmist demonstrated this perfectly!

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.   When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 41:1-2

Getting back to the basics

Less sugar= less processed, unoriginal, watered down, unhealthy food.I'm trying to get back to food the way God made it. Pure.
Letting go of additives= more creativity
Do you know how much stuff has sugar in it? Bread, cereal, even the whole grain kinds, anything prepackaged. So needless to say I am having to get pretty creative with the way I do my sweet portions.
Anyway. The spiritual application here: let go of the processed parts of your time with God. The overworked, spiritually leached ingredients: preconceived notions, doubt, lip service, obligations. Be real with him. Express your need for more of him and he will fill you up to overflowing with the good stuff.  And if you are like me at all, you may feel that your time with him is sometimes lacking, needing a little sweetening up. I've changed up my "routine" and am finding new and creative ways to worship privately, learn more about him, and communicate with him. Get creative. He doesn't mind.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8

Beware of the fake stuff!

Wow. Fake sugar is so much worse for you than real sugar. Not many people accept that though and while they (me) eat it and eat it, thinking it's a great substitute for the real thing and that they are avoiding all of the negative consequences of sugar but are, all the while, stuffing poison into their bodies.
Beware of fake Jesus! How many times have I tried to do things my way, the artificial way, thinking I could have my cake and eat it too? Thinking God's plan was the hard way, the way that would cause me to suffer more or be at a loss in the end only to find out that I was so very wrong. Finding things of this world that  only temporary relieve my craving but never satisfy and only leave me wanting more of the wrong stuff, the fake stuff. It's so bad for me. I am learning to take time and be sure of God's voice. Understand his plan. Find a way to get to his will even if it isn't easy or convenient. It's so much more fulfilling though when I submit and am only consuming what he intended for me to consume spiritually. 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us  
Hebrews 12:1

So I intent to keep running this race. I don't really know if there's a finish line in sight but I am thankful that a God -inspired suggestion from my chiropractor has brought some depth and some perspective into my spiritual life. I am grateful that God continues to work in the midst of my mess and reveal himself in awesome ways. Even if they are sugar-free ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Smelling like Jesus

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2

I saw a friend today unexpectedly and she hugged me.
I smell like her now.
It's a fragrance unique only to her.
It's a strong fragrance. It's not offensive.
Just strong and unique.John always knows when I've seen her because I smell like her.
Everyone asks her what she is wearing and where she got the perfume.

Just as I smell like her after a brief encounter I should also smell like Jesus after being with him. My time with him should produce a change in me, something strong!
And other's should sense it immediately.
I want to radiate my Jesus like a unique perfume that precedes and proceeds me.
It should linger on others like a hug from a freshly fragrances friend leaving them wondering what was different about me, wanting  their own bottle of Jesus.
I want to smell like Jesus

Friday, August 6, 2010

Through Smoke

Before the truth will come to fill our eyes,

The wool comes down in the form of fire 
And when the answers and the truth have cut their ties 
Will you still find me ,
Will you still see me, through smoke?

...And when the answers and the truth have cut their ties 
Will you still find me ,
Will you still see me through smoke?

When their whispers have painted pictures that 
Make you doubt what you once believed in 
Paper stories that hide the glory 
To keep us searching 
Through smoke 

Who do you believe when you can't get through (through smoke) 
When everything you know seems so untrue (through smoke) 
When I'm lost in a place that I thought I knew (through smoke) 
Give me some way that I might find you (through smoke) 

 Not only has this summer been a  hot one physically. It's been a scorcher spiritually.

Before the truth will come to fill our eyes,
 The wool comes down in the form of fire ...

It's Hazy.
I don't want to go outside because of the heat. It's too uncomfortable.
I don't want to go closer to this refiners fire because it hurts.
 I've taken a break from being involved so intimately with my God. Not intentionally. It kind of stings right now.
It feels like He is the one taking a break from me but in my head, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. 

I am just at a loss at how to communicate with God at all lately:
Not because I don't trust him
(that sounds like the good thing to say here)
Not because I don't believe in him
(even this week, I've questioned my faith more times than I care to admit. This small admission will suffice).
I am at a loss because for the first time in a long time I don't hear a ready reply on the other end of the spiritual phone line.
Maybe He is speaking but I am just not sure I want to hear what he has to say. That could be it. I wonder if the weirdness and the warfare of my circumstances are so thick that he can't see me.

Will you still find me,
Will you still see me through smoke ?

With so many of those around me walking in what seems to be in a season of abundance, I feel left out.
Surrounded by other's blessings, I struggle with being permeated with envy.
Surrounded by other's obvious answers to prayer, I wonder if my voice is even heard. I'm confused why I can't see past this spiritual smokiness.
Some things just seem to work out so perfectly and in such a quick time for many people and that it makes it hard to remember that God may choose to work differently in me.
I could be the special one, after all...

I am Bombarded with phrases like:
"Keep trusting."
"I thought I was!"
"it's all in God's hands"
"where are they?"
"believe in His perfect timing"
"How long, O, Lord, must we wait?"
"He has a plan"

Cause when the answers and the truth take different sides 
Will you still find me,
Will you still see me through smoke?

I nod and I thank the people who say them. Because in reality, they are probably trying to give me a Word in season; to build me up and  encourage my faint heart.  But I long for the blockade between my mind and my heart to be opened. Knowing and feeling are different.  For this part of my soul to feel so dead and lonely is more than I can take at moments. I remember just now that feeling means, I am not dead...yet.  I want to feel in every fiber of my being that I DO trust in his every Word, that he has me securely wrapped in his huge, loving hands and that, in His perfect timing, this "plan" will be unveiled with grandeur.  

I am reminded of the fruit of the spirit:
 Missy, don't grow weary of being patient and being kind and doing that which is good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled.

Then it hits me just now.
When we aren't controlled by the Holy Spirit, the works of the flesh come in.
My fleshly mind starts working.

 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12 

When their whispers have painted pictures that 
Make you doubt what you once believed in ...

But Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

To keep us searching 
Through smoke..

In the moments, days, weeks where I am disappointed and unsure I need to take those words meant in comfort and use them to draw strength and life to my fading self.
My enemy lurks about to destroy my faith; to uproot the seeds and the firmly rooted trees of truth and trust in my life.  He wants to separate me from this Hope in which I am placing every desire of my heart.

Who do you believe when you can't get through (through smoke) 
When everything you know seems so untrue (through smoke) 

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?....
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35,37-39

The unbelief, the distrust, the distress, the mess-ups, the questioning, the confusion that's my smoke. But he's using the fire for  his purposes.

“For you, O God, tested us; 
You refined us like silver." Psalm 66:10

 "As a father has compassion on his children, 
 so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
 for he knows how we are formed,
  he remembers that we are dust." 
Psalm 103:13-14

I am asking my God to remember my frame today. I ask for forgiveness for my doubt for my whining. And I thank him, that amidst the silliness that is my weak and powerless enemy, he is refining me to be "Something Beautiful" 

When I'm lost in a place that I thought I knew (through smoke) 
Give me some way that I might find you (through smoke) 

God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I'm far from anywhere, 
down to my last gasp, 
I call out, "Guide me 
up High Rock Mountain!" 
You've always given me breathing room, 
a place to get away from it all, 
A lifetime pass to your safe-house, 
an open invitation as your guest. 
You've always taken me seriously, God, 
made me welcome among those who know and love you. 

Psalm 61

When I'm lost in a place that I thought I knew (through smoke) 
Give me some way that I might find you (through smoke)